While much of today’s political debate—and rhetoric—is focusing on Mexican immigrants, pundits and politicians alike have overlooked a very interesting statistic. According to US Census Bureau research released in May 2015, immigrants from China and India, many with student or work visas, have overtaken Mexicans as the largest groups coming into the US.
According to an Associated Press report, Mexican nationals still comprise the largest immigration groups currently living in the US. However, of the 1.2 million newly arrived immigrants in the US legally and illegally counted in 2013 numbers, China led with 147,000, followed by India with 129,000 and Mexico with 125,000. Experts attribute this shift—which they believe has been in the works for at least a decade—is due to a plunge in illegal immigration, and is helping to bring more skilled workers to the US.
The state of Texas has witnessed much of this shift. According to the Office of the State Demographer, the number of Mexican immigrants coming to Texas each year has dropped by more than half since 2005. In that time, the number of people from India coming to Texas has more than doubled and the number from China has increased more than fivefold, though both still comfortably trail Mexican immigrants. Asian immigrants have mostly honed in on urban areas to settle in and open businesses.
This shift is also causing politicos to center the immigration debate not only on preventing the entry of illegal immigrants, but also on facilitating the entry of educated and skilled workers. Per the Migration Policy Institute, the majority of Indian and Chinese immigrants in the last two years are 25 and older and have a bachelor’s degree or higher. Only 15 percent of Mexican immigrants had this level of education, up from 6 percent in 2000.
Michael Fix of the Migration Policy Institute told the Associated Press that changes to overall immigrant demographics in the US will be slow because twice as many Mexican nationals than Indian and Chinese nationals are becoming permanent residents. However, those numbers are changing as more student and work visas given to skilled Indian and Chinese nationals are used to start on the path to residency.
Sylvia Longmire is a border security expert and Contributing Editor for Breitbart Texas. You can read more about cross-border issues in her latest book, Border Insecurity: Why Big Money, Fences, and Drones Aren’t Making Us Safer.